Friday, August 20, 2010

Newton - Design

Crossroads, cross currents, immigration, language translation - German - Spanish - English, Mennonite history, Hispanic heritage, the railroad, the Harvey Restaurant, agriculture and especially Red Turkey Wheat, monuments, Bethel College, Newton / North Newton tensions, Sand Creek, Native American settlement, the Doppler effect, military service, pacifism, farmers market, youth disenfranchisement and youth voices, the spread of Wichita, the mural process especially our design team meetings, Combs Organ Specialists. These are some of the topics on our narrowed down list of subjects for the mural design. Enough for at least five murals, a PHD dissertation and a reality tv show, but not a clear narrative or visual idea that could contain them all.

To help capture, in our design, this wide range of seemingly unrelated material , we began searching for common metaphors that would at once be visually compelling and imbued with useful meanings. So, there we were around the table scratching our heads and scribbling on pages. And there we were looking sort of like a group of quilters stitching individual designs into a whole, or model railroad enthusiasts imagining in miniature their ideal town, or even kids playing a board game about the machinations of city life complete with tiny symbolic figurines and buildings. And finally, there we were upstairs at the Carriage Factory Gallery discussing, disagreeing, dreaming, listening, and compromising because we wanted to to make the best mural possible. Aha.

Our design would be centered around a table with people engaged in the process of imagining, remembering, and creating their community. We included references to quilters, model railroads, and board games, while the space behind the seated figures was occupied by their overlapping hopes, half-baked notions, and embellished memories.
All of this rendered with symbols specific to Newton, North Newton, and our design process. The color study, made as a collage with cut paper, emphasized the difference between the more literal realm of the figures working around the table with that of the dream space behind them. Add an architectural border with textile designs and voila we had a pretty rockin' mural design. Whew.

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